Assignment 2 * Painting with light

05th November 2019

This assignment is a trial and error process in taking a photograph of a person. This can be a hard lesson for students who don’t see the many unsuccessful attempts that are behind the successful picture, the photos that almost expressed what the photographer had in mind, where the light. was almost right, the subject almost in the right position, the timing just a bit off etc. Re-working, re-photographing and re-making are vital lessons in your photographic education, so make them working habits.

OCA Foundations in Photography Course Folder pg91

We were asked to do some trial shots to make sure we understood the technique of painting with light. So I decided to just have a relaxed fun time, due to being really despondent with my attainment within the light exercises in Project 2. Therefore I was not strict at all in this first trial.

I decided to use my little cat, Kenai as my model – as my girls were not willing tonight, and Kenai was asleep. So I set up my tripod, took a few photographs in the light, set up my tripod and wrapped a green card around the torch instead of the black card because I had packed the black away somewhere and didn’t have a clue where it would be.

Yes, I know this meant I was painting with a green light but it didn’t put me off as I knew this was just a trial. The contact sheets for this shot can be seen below.

For a trial run I managed only to get one decent image that could be used for manipulation. The remaining of the light painting was very faint. I am thinking probably because I did not use a torch but my mobile phone light which at first had some leakage at the bottom of the taped card.

I did keep the ISO constant at 200 because I wanted to make sure that the images did not have any grain, but after these shots I should have tried ISO 400 to see the differences in outcome. However I stopped the shoot due to Kenai going walk about.

Trial 1 – Kenai

Image 1 – Original painted with light image

Image 2 – After choosing the image to manipulate I used three different adjustments to obtain three distinct different outcomes. The first adjudgment used the dodge tool. I did not block colour the background but made a dark sketchy background using jolting movements around Kenai and then filled any gaps in the dark sketch background with a smaller exposure setting. I also used this exposure setting to shade around Kenai’s body, across some of his back and stomach as well as on the blanket between his head and leg.

Image 3 – Using image 2 I decided to correct the green colour cast. I used Levels to do this by using the grey eyedropper tool in the Properties panel to click on something grey within the image. Once I had chosen my grey area and clicked on it the colours within the image adjust accordingly.

Image 4 – For the final image adjustment I performed a simple conversion of image 3 into black and white by using the black and white tool in the adjustments panel.

One of my main creative photography techniques is cross-app photography, where I begin with an image in photoshop and then once I am happy with the image as a ‘straight forward’ image with only adjustments to colour cast and exposure etc… I cross it over into different apps on my iPad to create a cross-app image.

Photograph 4 is a cross-app image, I know we are supposed to be using photoshop but I have decided to follow up on exercises and assignments with some of my creative work so that I can see how my ideas work with what I am learning on the course. I am however using purely Photoshop Express for these images rather than the different apps I have from other developers.

Cross-app image: Convert – Black & white 60s TV Grab – Light – Isolated background – Darkened

My favourite images are the cross-app image and the black and white image. I like the cross-app image because of the textured background which has the sketch like dodge marks, the blanket texture in the foreground and some harsher lines in the background which were within the room.

10th November 2019

I am going to have-a-go at my second trial with this assignment which will be a self-portrait.

I am going to set my camera on a table-top tripod and using my bicycle torch with black card this time – I found it, that is one step forward at least – I will paint myself with light. I am also using the shutter release cable and using the ‘B’ setting for timing the shots.

I will follow the same routine as for kenai which is, take some initial shots in light to make sure the composition is correct and that I am focused. Then the experimentation begins…

I decided to shoot myself topless as I usually shoot night time self-portraits with a theme running through them of vulnerability, and there is nothing more vulnerable than showing people parts of a naked body. I stayed with my theme as I hoped that this work could lead to future projects for exhibition but unlike some of my artworks and photographs I have kept them as near decent as I could as I am not sure the policy on conceptual artworks of this nature within college boundaries.

My first shot is the composition and focus shot just to make sure everything is more or less set up correctly. I made sure I was on ISO 200 and I set the aperture to f3.5 to let as much light in as possible. My first trial shots proved to be far too bright so I then altered the f-stops to f22. With the change in f-stop I also reduced the amount of light coming out of the torches black tube by making the hole smaller.

The results show a different feel altogether in the images. The second batch of images are darker and have far more blur within them. Interestingly I also seem to have trails of light included within these shots with in some instances prove to be quite aesthetic. Unfortunately I did not go on as long as I wished to due to family demands so I had to cut this photo shoot short.

I actually really enjoyed working this way within my self-portraits and I definitely will be working on experimenting further with this technique within my personal work.

With the third image above I produced the following two images by using different tools within photoshop.

My favourite end image is image 2 because it is not completely black and white which seems a little harsh and over exposed. The touch of colour that is present gives it a washed out feeling as though it has faded over time, this in turn still makes the flesh seem warm and alive. However, I have noticed that the forehead has been burned too much and has a grey patch on it which I didn’t realise until writing this up.

I then decided to move my head to different positions to see if I could obtain an image that looked like multiple exposure however the extra time that the aperture was open meant that the image was very bright and my head completely bleached out from the light.

After reviewing the images in camera and realising that they were quite over exposed, bright and harsh, I decided to alter the aperture to let in less light and set it at f22.

The following set of images were trial and error until I began to work out how long I need to hold the shutter release open for. I also decided to operate the shutter release with my big toe so that both of my hands were free for gestures and painting the light.

After a few initial shots which although gave me some dark images, I began to obtain some better quality images but they were however still far too bright. I realised that the tube’s aperture was to large and therefore letting in quite a lot of direct bright light. To alter this I cut the tubing and pulled it together, re-fixing it to gain a smaller aperture.

Two of the better brighter images are seen below.

Image 2 – Tone adjusted, converted to black and white and piercings were covered up with the burn tool
Image 3 – Tone adjusted, converted to black and white, Burn tool to hide light flair, hair and to blend the right breast into the dark background, Dodge tool used to bring out the nose piercings to match up with the eye brow piercings and to highlight parts of the hair

Using the smaller aperture meant that I had to trial shoot some portraits to find out the required shutter speed. The first trials were very dark and I also found using the smaller aperture meant increasing the shutter speed time which then means some of the images began to blur. I found that, like the image above the movement actually enhances some of the portraits rather than detracting from them.

The harshness of the light in the first shot suited the contrast that you find in black and white images but those above have a soft, watery feel to them as the movement and the trails of light remind me of seeing people in the swimming pool with the light refracting around them. Also I found that the straight conversion to black and white made the images flat and lost, they needed something extra than a straight conversion.

11th November 2019

The following images have been adjusted within Photoshop. Two I have altered by adjusting the Colour Balance to give an underwater feel to the images while the remaining are Black and White images.

Within each photograph I used the Dodge tool. Other tools and adjustments made included: Colour balance (Cyan and Blue), Brightness, Contrast, Levels (grey) and the crop tool.

I added some Colour Contrast to the above images because the original shots reminded me of David Hockney’s pool work where there are the colour blues and greens broken by light and patterns, examples of which can be seen below.

Below the completed Black and White images:

I find the nose on the above image quite distracting, however when I used the dodge tool to remove the lower part of it, the image didn’t draw your eye in as much so I left it in place.
With this image, I highlighted some of the fan with the torch light as well.

I am really pleased with the final images. I particularly like the images where there is some blurring or movement as it gives just that little bit of an extra interest when viewing them. Other decisions I found tough to make was how much Dodging to use. I decided that having too many grey areas left the images slightly flat so I decided to leave areas of high concentration light which would balance with the dark backgrounds which I obtained by increasing the contrast. This play with light made the images harsher but far more interesting especially as the increased light either highlighted specific parts of the body, increased the appearance of light trails or allowed more of the blurred movement to show.

Now that I have experimented a couple of times I am hoping one of my daughters will model for me so that I can do the full length shots, even if their head is stuck in a mask or behind a book that is better than not being able to fully complete this assignment.